Tuesday, February 17, 2009

An Iota of Forgiveness

Escorted by a uniform officer, the three of us from the streets arrived at our meeting room at the prison amidst cheering and clapping. Every week we are greeted by this magnificent welcoming committee as we join our fellow LibOrators for the regular weekly meeting of Toastmasters, LibOrators at the Tecumseh State Correctional Institution.

The Sargeant-At-Arms brought the meeting to order. There was a joke to bring the house down; there were the requisite reports from the officers, which included the word for the night: "iota" and any synonym which could be substituted to mean small. Then a hush fell over the room as the educational portion of the meeting got underway.

The first speaker was a seasoned orator. He has held every office, he has gone through every manual and he hopes to hit the streets soon. This was billed as his last speech to this club. He spoke eloquently of forgiveness. As he talked, I thought to myself how glad I was NOT to be his evaluator. His evaluator found himself in a place where it would be difficult to find anything in this speech to correct. He got a standing ovation when his 7 minutes were up. He was modest but you could see by his face that he was pleased to be recognized for his abilities to charm an audience with good content and confident presentation.

Speaker #2 was amazed to discover that Speaker #1 had chosen the same topic, unbeknownst to one another. He approached forgiveness in a completely different way. We felt his nervousness; this fellow is a novice who accepts responsibility for club leadership and prepares carefully for each speaking project in his manual.

There were other speeches, too; each was unique. We heard a man's first speech, The Ice Breaker, and his story wrenched our hearts. A veteran talked about the Viet Nam war-this man is very close to earning his first Competent Communicator Award. He made me so proud.

Even the evaluators did a great job of lovingly pointing out where improvements could be made and they impressed the Timer by using their alloted time but not taking too long!

The Table Topics Master invited some seasoned speakers, then some visitors and those visitors were positively inspiring to those of us who have done those nerve-wracking 2 minute thinking-on-your-feet exercises!

During our break I had a most interesting conversation about forgiveness with a man who is serving a life sentence. His attitude is remarkable. His life is a complete lesson for others to emulate, if they want to become their best selves. I marvelled to myself that I would hold in such high regard a man who will never leave the prison. At one time I would not have dreamed it to be possible. This man has decided to change the way he thinks, the way he behaves, the way he lives his life. He told me that it took a tragedy and this trip to prison to bring him to this place in his life. Now that he is IN prison, he can be a role model for other incarcerated men. How noble is he?

Even one iota of forgiveness could help any of us.

One way of addressing forgiveness is with The Healing Codes . If forgiveness is an issue for you or someone you love, I offer to you that you might seriously consider The Healing Codes .

Connie Baum

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